Financial Advisors - How to Start Your Own Networking Leads Group
While I love networking, it is not always the best way to grow your business in terms of return on time investment. It can be hit or miss depending upon the type of group you attend.
Hello. My name is Suzanne Muusers, Coach to Financial Advisors and Brand Strategist since 2004.
There are many types of networking groups. There are Chambers of Commerce, social mixers for business, women only organizations, business groups, social groups, subject matter groups, workshops, seminars, and leads groups.
In all these groups, you meet some great folks and pass out a lot of business cards. But is it an effective way to grow a business? I believe any networking event has the potential to grow your business. Anywhere you can talk to people and establish a relationship has this potential.
From my own experience, there is no better business networking event with referral potential than a leads group.
What is a leads group you ask? Here's a definition: a leads group is a business referral networking group where there is only one member per professional category. Members meet weekly to exchange business leads.
There are two well established groups nationwide: BNI and LeTip. There's usually a hefty fee to join – around $300-$400; an annual renewal fee between $200 and $300; and monthly fees for meals that can run up to $50. In total a leads group can run up to $800 per year. There are attendance rules and fines for not providing the recommended number of leads.
Just the same, becoming a member of a leads group is one of the best strategies for newer financial advisors and those with eight to ten years experience. After ten years, an advisor should have an established contact database that provides referrals on a consistent basis.
Leads groups work because the purpose of the group is to pass business leads. There is an expectation that you will provide warm leads, not cold calls. The only problem is that most leads groups already have the financial advisor category filled. So what's an advisor to do?
Start your own leads group!
This requires effort on your part, but will pay off significantly for many years to come. Recently, I have noticed a proliferation of a new type of leads group - the independent group. This new hybrid does not require the hefty up front and monthly fees, meets only twice monthly, and does not always include a meal during the meeting.
Here are the steps to start a leads group:
- Create a core group of charter members with you as President, a CPA, Property and Casualty agent, a Life/Health/Disability person, Realtor, and Mortgage Broker.
- Meet to discuss forming the group and how you will set up the housekeeping rules.
- Ask each member commit to bringing in at least two new members to get you to eighteen members.
- Chose an appropriate name for your group and include the city name for branding purposes.
- How much should you charge? The hybrids are charging between $25 and $30 per quarter. The fees are being used to put on special events once quarterly.
- How often should you meet? People are burned out on weekly meetings. The hybrids are meeting twice monthly which make more sense for busy professionals.
- Where should you meet? An upscale restaurant with a back room or an office with a board room are both suitable locations.
- When should you meet? Breakfast meetings are always successful because you can complete your networking and still put in a full day.
- Should you offer a meal? If meeting in a restaurant, have them provide a list of 5 meals at a reasonable cost and have members pick up their own tabs. This keeps costs down for the group and for the members.
- Should you have an attendance commitment? Absolutely. If members don't attend, they won't get leads. Out of site, out of mind. Allow one absence per month or two quarterly. It's up to you.
- Create a meeting outline to follow during each meeting.
- Once these decisions have been made, create a PR campaign to get the word out about your group.
- Create a MeetUp group for your Leads Group. MeetUp will then send weekly reminders to anyone who is a member of any MeetUp group, giving your organization exposure.
- Send a notice to the Events person at your local Business Journal, newspaper, and neighborhood magazine to let them know the details about your group.
- Do a Google search for "Networking +Name of your city" and ask to be added to any on line calendars of events.
- When visitors attend your meetings, have them sign a "Check in" sheet. Tell visitors they may attend two meetings before having to make a decision to join.
- Plan a Grand Opening date and then call everyone you know in an open category and invite them to the meeting.
This new type of leads group can be easier to set up and run than traditional groups due to lower costs and less commitment. If you lack a well connected referral group, you should consider putting the effort into creating one yourself. Before you know it you could have a large, prosperous leads group sending business your way!
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Suzanne Muusers is an ICF-Member Business Coach who has worked with hundreds of successful independent financial advisors, investment executives, and finance career professionals since 2004. She helps clients develop their Value Proposition, Ideal Client Profile, and Branding Strategy so that their marketing message appeals to affluent clients.
Suzanne has created exercises and programs that help her clients get straight to the point and avoid mistakes other advisors tend to make. Her clients save time getting to the next level due to her extensive knowledge and experience in the business growth field.
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